On The Enlightenment: Response to a letter
How irritating it is to encounter such a blatant reluctance to come to terms with contemporary, post-leftist anarchy!
The rationalist discourse of Enlightenment political philosophy can only hope to address the rational faculties.
This statement — the only point at which I refer to eighteenth century rationalism in my essay — apparently constitutes a “diatribe against the Enlightenment”. This strikes me as a bizarre notion. But even if I did want to critique the Enlightenment I can’t do so because it seems that all such critiques are inevitably “reactionary, fascist and elitist”. Critique — let alone repudiation — of the Enlightenment apparently aligns one with Hitler! Why is it not possible to mount a critique of rationalism from an anarchist perspective? Why are critiques of the Enlightenment necessarily reactionary? Why is the Enlightenment such a sacred cow?
Enlightenment thinkers used the concept of ‘reason’ to undermine the absolutist state and to re-affirm the crucial importance of human agency...
But in the name of what cause? Not an anarchist project, but — wittingly or not — bourgeois liberalism (Rousseau, for example: an advocate of limited parliamentary democracy). It might be well to remember the words of one of Rousseau’s contemporaries, and someone whose perspective informs and closely resembles anarchism. Blake wrote:
Mock on, mock on, Voltaire, Rousseau!
Mock on, mock on — Tis all in vain!
You throw the sand against the wind,
And the wind blows it back again.